Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Oh, Woe! There's Less Starvation!

I laughed ... not ha-ha laughed, but sardonic laughed ... most of the way home last night, listening to a BBC report that lamented this newly found fact: There are now more overweight people on the planet than malnourished people.

Hold on a minute. This is dire news, not cause for celebration. Don't think for a moment you should feel wonderful relief and raise praises to God; no, you should worry about diabetes! As Professor Barry Popkin of the University of N.C. responded to the reporter regarding this wonderful news (paraphrasing here, the audio isn't up at BBC, just this),
"If we don't get this under control, we'll all have are arms and toes amputated by the time we're 40."
What a strange way to look at this remarkable turn-around. In the 1970s, lefty doomsayer Paul Ehrlich was predicting global food shortages and mass starvation by the 1980s; instead, we have such abundance that if you type "china obesity" into your browser, you'll get thousands of hits. Conversely, I just typed "china starvation" into Yahoo image search and got only three pages of photos, none of which showed starving Chinese. (By the way, you can pick up a copy of Ehrlich's The Population Bomb for 35 cents on Amazon; more than it's worth.)

The doomsayers, be they population bombers, global warmies, species hawks or Democrats, see through a glass darkly because they see government, not enterprise, as the solution. And in their hearts, deep where they can't admit it out loud, they know government is too ineffective to be the solution. So there must be no solution.

Therefore, we'll all die from global warming -- instead of moving a bit inland and enjoying the bounty brought be longer growing seasons -- or we'll all have our arms and toes amputated -- instead of learning the consequences of eating too much of the wrong foods, and changing our nutritional patterns.

Popkin and his ilk also are driven by costs, because where there are increasing government costs, there are increasing opportunities for grants. So again and again, he discussed the health care impacts of obesity as a rationale for his worry.

Gone from his thinking is analysis of the cost impacts of starving. Yes, when someone gets diabetes, hospital costs follow. The amazing cynicism of the doomer's worldview is evident in what they don't see: When someone starves, there's no hospital bill. Just an empty pantry, an empty stomach, a lack of care and a death.

Does this make starvation less of a problem? Of course not; it makes it much, much worse -- and the news that starvation is ebbing is great news for our planet that should be celebrated, not passed aside so grant-hunters can cry and wail about people who eat too much.

On the BBC broadcast, the announcer said after running through this tale of more full people and less starving people, "And so the reporter asked, a little mischieviously, 'Isn't that a good thing?'"

Nothing mischievious about it: YES IT'S A GOOD THING! It means enterprise is winning, science is providing, marketplaces are full and pockets are jingling with lucre, that fewer and fewer children are going to sleep hungry.

Celebrate! Have a piece of cake and a sugary drink!

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